In the Local Palate’s 2023 Restaurants Issue, our state-by-state guide highlights the new restaurants that have emerged since 2022. Here, managing editor Emily Havener showcases the can’t-miss restaurants in South Carolina.
When Keipi opened in May 2022, they were told by the American Friends of Georgia cultural embassy that they were only the 12th Georgian restaurant in the US. (That’s the Republic of Georgia, for the record.) “We’re fascinated by the culture and the cuisine,” says general manager Andrew Martin. “We are not Georgians and we try to be clear about that, but our project is in honor of, and in tribute to, a country that is profoundly meaningful to all of us.”
The nonprofit restaurant supports the First Things Foundation, founded by John Heers, who lived in Georgia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1990s and fell in love with the country and its customs, among them the keipi tradition of sharing toasts during a meal.
Staff and volunteers at Keipi act as tamadas, or toastmasters, for interested diners. Martin says, “It’s a personal experience for each table. In Georgian culture you toast to everything—life, death, romance, loss, it all comes together. Sometimes we toast the whole restaurant—it wouldn’t be unusual at all, in Georgia, for tables to connect with one another and toast with each other. We try to grease the skids and get that going.” In addition, every Friday night, there is a community keipi, translated as a party or feast, where up to 18 people can reserve a seat at the table.
Head chef Iryna Tarasenko directs a menu comprised of dishes that residents and visitors from Eastern Europe would expect to see: khatchapuri, a cheese bread that echoes Italian flavors; khinkali, a dumpling reminiscent of bao; and pali, a pureed spinach salad with Slavic influences. And the restaurant carries only Georgian wine, about half of which is prepared in the traditional fashion of fermenting in qvevris, or barrels—a practice that dates back 8,000 years.
“The table in Georgian metaphor is the place where heaven and earth meet,” Martin says. “So we try to have the beautiful things of the earth and the transcendent things of human love and relationship meet at the table. And something special is happening.”
Can’t Miss at Keipi
Teliani Valley Kindzmarauli
This red wine made in the millennias-old qvevri tradition has notes of wild cherry and crème fraîche. The Teliani Valley is the heart of Georgian winemaking, and wines from this region are vibrant, gutsy, and utterly unique.
Traditional Adjaruli Khatchapuri
The most “quintessentially Georgian dish we have,” Martin says, is shaped like a boat for blessing—Georgian women from the Adjara region made them as good luck for their sailor husbands as they went out on the Black Sea. The bread becomes a bed for stretchy cheese that’s topped with a raw egg yolk, which you break and mix with the cheese; then tear off pieces of bread to dip. It’s only available for dining in—for good reason.
Best eaten within the first five minutes it’s on the table, this Georgian soup dumpling is filled with beef, onion, spices, and a broth you drink right out of the dumpling like a cup. Pick it up by the “stem,” carefully take a bite, and tip the juices into your mouth, then devour the rest.
This 10-ounce meat skewer features beef or lamb that’s marinated in pomegranate juice, onions, and herbs and is then charred on the outside and served rare with spicy adjika or satsebeli sauce, or Georgian pesto.
Get the recipe: Badrijani (eggplant rolls with walnut filling)
Nine New Restaurants in South Carolina
The James Beard semifinalist team at the Anchorage has done it again, this time with a Pacific Island-influenced menu full of surprises like kampachi crudo with preserved lemon and sunchoke, chicken schnitzel, and Carolina albacore tuna crostada with Asian pear. Down-to-earth dishes such as steak frites and hand-battered fish and chips, plus a cocktail and wine selection that includes the familiar and the adventurous, ensure an option for every mood.
Kainan | Conway
Steve and Grace Harrington opened Kainan in spring 2022 to fill a culinary gap in an area with a Filipino population of around 100,000. Their menu provides a delicious education to anyone unfamiliar with Filipino dishes like adobo chicken and lechon kawali. Their breakfast, in particular, caught our eye (and the rest of our senses) with its notable similarities to Southern breakfast plate standards but with variations like rice and longganisa, a Filipino-style sausage.
This passion project of former French Laundry and Bar Américain chef Justin Hunt and level-three advanced sommelier Dimitri Hatgidimitriou makes room on the menu for Greek pimento cheese, Aegean salad (calamari, shrimp, octopus, and fish marinated in lemon, EVOO, herbs, onions, and peppers, with fried pita), and ouzo-braised local fish. Greek wines headline a simple but sophisticated beverage menu that includes cocktails with a Hellenic flair.
The first restaurant of former McCrady’s duo Dano and Bethany Heinze, this American bistro focuses on shareable plates with decidedly Italian-Mediterranean flavors that are nonetheless 100-percent innovative. Recent highlights range from a sophisticated flounder with vermouth, pink peppercorn, and king trumpet mushrooms to the utterly simple blackberries and crème fraîche for dessert.
Between the Antlers | Georgetown
Jimmy Williams, who has consulted with the restaurant since its inception in March 2022, says it was born out of a desire among friends for a really good bloody mary. Now, with executive chef Chelsea Cribb at the helm, they’ve created a “rice-based, Lowcountry-indigenous kitchen” with a menu ranging from perlau fritters and she crab soup to a six-ounce filet, loaded brisket fries, and the Brice’s Country Store sandwich made with thick-cut fried baloney.
Bexley Fish & Raw Bar | Summerville
Old-school Southern ingredients meet Far Eastern flavors on an ever-changing seafood- and produce-forward menu that reflects chef Jeremy Holst’s influences from Hawaii to Kiawah Island. It’s the condiments that distinguish this menu: sorghum butter, uni vinaigrette, yuzu-koshu buttermilk. The Bexley Surfboard of “seasonal things” is a must-order for the table; from there, you can’t go wrong.
Much anticipated from pitmaster John Lewis and Patricia Arredondo, Rancho Lewis blends West Texan, New Mexican, and Chihuahuan cuisine with a fabulously fun atmosphere for memorable and familiar favorites, like beef back ribs, green chile pozole, and shrimp cocktail, plus a splashy margaritas-and-more cocktail menu on which the Vampiro shines.
In combination with European cocktails, a Francophile wine list, and stylized decor, the outstanding menu from executive chef Paul Farmer and the inspired team behind Stems & Skins makes this tucked-away spot an experience that is nothing less than stellar. The Lowcountry influence is unmistakable in the listing of oyster- forward small plates and a selection of entrees in which local seafood—the chicken-fried grouper is a staple—and seasonal produce steal the show.
Laura | Summerville
The best thing about Nico Romo’s new rustic Italian concept with executive chef Sam Cavanaugh is that you’ll want to order everything on the menu, and the prices are so reasonable that you almost could. With scratch- made pasta and pizzas, a serious seafood game, and a host of antipasti you can make a mealout of, you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself—but the burrata and the sopressata-wrapped, mozzarella-stuffed chicken entrée are absolutely not to be missed.
New South Carolina Restaurants Worth Watching
The SAVI Cucina + Wine Bar team opened a new concept at the end of January 2023, focused on small plates, cocktails, and wine from Spain and the Mediterranean coast.
This 12-seat marble bar inside the newly opened Pinch hotel is already known for its seafood towers featuring local oysters, lobster, clams, shrimp, and a seasonal crudo.
Enjoy this award-winning local potato vodka in signature cocktails and paired with elevated snack plates, while you vibe in a coastal-chic lounge with hand-painted walls by Emily Pope Harris.
Check out these 10 recently opened and soon-to-open restaurants from Miami to Louisville, with Lebanese mezze to rustic Italian food and Spanish vermouth bars.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by TLP's Partners
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Hannah Lee Leidy